In my opinion the Molinari tunnel boats built at the famous Lake Como in the northern part of Italy is a big part of outboard racing history.
I was to young when tunnel boat racing started but have been told that Dieter Schulze was the first tunnel boat builder and Angelo Molinari started just after.
I am pretty good at Molinari boats in the seventies and the eighty’s but not in the sixties. Pretty sure there is plenty of people that can fill in from the sixties.
Molinari switched from Mercury Outboards to Evinrude Outboards late 1976..but please do not make a big deal if those Molinari boats was powered by a Merc in-line 3, 6, V6 or the OMC V-4/V-6/V-8. (or winning in Offshore Class One)
There was also plenty of Molinari boats in the OE/F-3 class..
Here is one example..My own black OE/F-3..powered by a Volvo Penta/Konig. The year is 1977.
First a beautiful picture from Lake Como.
I remember my first visit to the Molinari factory and how difficult it was to park a car there. (Narrow road in the mountains)
The big building was four or five (maybe six) different levels and the bottom floor had direct access to Lake Como.
Pretty hard to get ready to ship boats out of the building to trucks or trailers.
One setback buying a race boat from Molinari was that you have to race him..and Renato always raced the absolutely latest he built..
Yes..he was racing OE/F-3 also.
Racing people has always speculated in how much money OMC paid Molinari to switch from Mercury Racing to Evinrude Racing late 1976.
I think OMC paid him lots of money..
Here is my take why..
January 1 1977 OMC started there own distribution in every country in Europe.
OMC needed something big to get Evinrude/Johnson dealers excited about the new
plan.. OMC Sweden, OMC France, OMC Germany etc.
There was only two big markets in Europe where OMC kept the local distributor..
Ital-Marine was still the Evinrude importer in Italy and a local importer in Spain..
(I think the name was Motomaso)
OMC made a big deal about getting the World famous Italian boat racer/builder at the same time they presented the new OMC in Europe to all the dealers.
We can always guess how many millions of dollars OMC paid..but only Renato knows..!!
Stockholm Six Hour Grand Prix 1968
Yes..there was a six hour race in Stockholm, Sweden 1968.
3 hours on Saturday and 3 hours on Sunday.
The winner was Renato Molinari in his #34 Molinari/Merc
See attached picture..it is Renato on top of the Merc..sorry for Swedish.
Second picture is # 51 Carlo Rosini from Italy. Also in a Molinari /Merc at the Stockholm Six Hours.
Carlo Corbetta from Brazil in his Molinari/Merc 1000 BP
The first two pictures above:…Two racing buddies..Renato and Bob in Italy
Last picture in this post..# 457 Bob Herring & Renato Molinari at Parker 7 Hour Enduro in 1975.
A new Molinari boat took Cees Van Der Velden & Billy Seebold to the overall victory in the famous Paris Six Hours 1974.
You can read more about my eleven Paris Six Hour races here:
Another Swede..Ulf Backman when he wasn’t driving his Molinari-Evinrude Ulf was a commercial pilot for SAS..Scandinavien Airlines..
Well..not 100% sure..before my time in racing but I think this is Ulf´s Molinari #24..but it could be his Schulze..I do know the picture is from Paris Six Hours and Ulf drove all the six hours by himself.
No matter what people say about Renato..He was a very good tunnel boat driver.
This is when he raced in the Unlimited Hydroplane class with 2 X F1-V8 Evinrude racing outbords on a larger Molinari tunnel boat
Take your time an watch this video to the end..click here:..http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature…&v=5Orgl0t-yGw
Renato’s change from Merc to Evinrude 1977 was very good to him..but bad for other OMC drivers..A big part of the racing budget in Belgium went south to Como..!!
His first race for OMC was Parker and Renato and Hering won..I remember getting this black/white picture as a Evinrude dealer in Sweden after the race.
See..The result from the race still said Merc..!!
More success for Molinari boats Evinrude power in Parker. Famous Ron Hill and the soon to be Merc Racing boss..Fred..
Not sure what year..?? 1978??..but pretty sure Ron used the right propeller..!!
This is my own notes/memory watching this race from the shoreline in Auronzo, Italy the summer of 1976..
This was also the first and only time I did see Renato Molinari “play tricks”, well not really Renato but his second boat driven by Zoppi I think his name was.
Zoppi sank Cees VD Velden in his Velden /Johnson V-6 on “purpose” by running in to his boat at the start of the race.. just in front of us at the far end of the race course.
Velden sank and Molinari ended up winning both OE and ON. Well..not really in a proper way in my opinion.. (ON)
Not my picture but very interesting..
I young group of very good drivers..Renato to the left, Cees Van Der Velden center and Cesare Scotti to the right..Looks like the AZ desert in the background..maybe not if you look at the truck..Italy??
“Scafo” (Italian for boat) Molinari/Evinrude V-4..Ron Hill/John Schubert
Paris Six Hours 1970.
The look is pretty close to Ulf Backman´s boat
Molinari´s F1-V8 aluminum boat 1982.
This boat was extremely nice built and very expensive.
I remember other drivers was worried about the advantage Renato had if he touched
a wooden boat on the race course.
Lots of F1-V8 drivers did not want to go down the same road with very expensive
OMC stepped in and asked Renato to drive a similar boat (wood) to the one he sold to his race customers.
The same year David Burgess built a very good F1-V8 boat for Roger Jenkins
and he later won the World Championship that year..(1982)
All the pictures is from the F1-V8 race in Como 1982 when Renato won with the aluminum boat (#165)..and the maestro himself.
1982 was also the last year Renato used his famous #165..1983 and after he used #18.
One more thing..I was there in Como 1982 racing the F-3 class…dreaming of one day race F1-V8..
I raced a Saffa sponsored Molinari for Renato with a 2 liter Evinrude V-6 looper 1978 at Idroscalo..Finished second after Renato in a similar boat but ahead of all the ON Mercury drivers.!!
This was a test race for me to get ready for Paris 6 Hours 1978.
I drove the Saffa OZ Molinari/Evinrude2.4 liter team boat for Renato there, together with Angelo Vassena.
Working on this story and it is ready pretty soon..
Not the boat I raced but same paint job.
Bob Hering and Renato in the late seventies. I guess between 1977 -79. That was the time for the Saffa paint job.
Renato changed the design on his F1-V8 boats 1983 when he also started to use #18.
The main sponsor was Martini and many boats was in his team..Most of the time three.
Bob Spalding drove the #11 and Kicco Vidoli drove # 19..
Some said that Porsche helped Renato design the 1983 and -84 look..I know for sure Renato drove a white sporty looking Porsche 911 Turbo at that time..
This was the first year of the Evinrude/Johnson V8 racing engine..I can see Renato have the Italian distributor for Evinrude as a sponsor..Italmarine did many good things for racing.
Renato used #65 here and his teammate I think his name was Columbo #61
Here is a link to a long story about the Nottingham race in Powerboat & Waterskiing..Yes..you can also read about the Swede winning the F-3 class there..
More from the 1981 race season..
Renato Molinari won the first ever F1-V8 race in Germany 1981
A link to the story of this race.. World debut of V-8.. by Powerboat & Waterskiing.
Not sure who is driving this nice Saffa/Molinari/Evinrude V-6 looper 3 liter..Race # 197..The picture is from 1979 and my guess is from maybe Parker or Havasu..??
Not sure who is driving this nice Saffa/Molinari/Evinrude V-6 looper 3 liter..Race # 197..The picture is from 1979 and my guess is from maybe Parker or Havasu..??
Renato in Drammen, Norway 1980 driving his tecnocar/Evinrude V-6 looper 3 liter with fuel injection..The last picture with Renato and the Evinrude engine without cowling is the one I like best..
(The person behind Renato/engine is me..!!..)
Picture by Sture Sjoeberg
More from Drammen, Norway 1980 in a Finnish boating magazine..Well they got the year wrong it was 1980..I have pictures from Molinari in Drammen 1981 with the bigger V-8 Evinrude. (coming later..)
This thread is going to be long..!!..please come back again..much more in the pipeline.
More Drammen, Norway 1980..This is from a Swedish Boating Magazine..
130 knop is 145 MPH
Again Per Simonsen…Thank you..
Hehe..I am reading this Swedish report now that I have never seen before and they are referring to me as an expert..!!..
Well..I was there racing F-3 and maybe talked to them..don’t really remember everything that happen 30 plus years ago.
Here is a picture of the #11 Molinari/Saffa boat Angelo Vassena and I drove in Paris 1978. I can see at the helmet that the Swede is piloting..
The Havasu Race 1979..
Our Jimbo McConnell is pretty involved with his nice Molinari boat….
I meet Renato every other weekend for close to fifteen year at the boat races..
Raced in his team, been to his house and purchased boats from him.
Still don’t know if he liked me or not..
Renato never showed his feelings.
You did not see Renato in a bar or party with everybody else after or before a race.
I still respected him a lot..Renato was like a racing machine..100% focused on winning races..not friends.
Renato never looked for racing boat customers..they came to him.
The first picture is from Stockholm GP 1983..the second I can only guess 1969 or 1970..Don’t know when he raced the Merc with loud pipes.
Renato won the Rouen 24 hours many times with outboards..but 1979 was in the inboard R-3 class.
A Saffa/Molinari/Fiat Abarth
The most controversial Saffa/Molinari/Evinrude race boat was the “Molinari Monster” 1979..
I did a complete story about that last year..please click on the link below and read..
The Molinari “Monster”..the real story
Barry Woods at Lake Havasu driving a Molinari/Saffa/Evinrude V6 CCC.
I bet you haven’t seen Lars.
It’s from the December 1965 issue of Boating News. It was the first time I ever heard the name Molinari. When I first started racing OPC was called Outboard Pleasure Craft, and there were only runabout style boats and v bottoms, and catamarans around where we raced. The most popular cats where we ran were Powercats and Kober Kats. Sometime around 1969 is about when I can remember tunnel boats. The name Molinari was the one name always associated with tunnel boats and in the back of my mind I had a memory of that name and the rear view of a boat in a magazine. I remember flipping through the pages of my Boating News and ,sure enough , this was the same company building the tunnels that were popping up all over the place.
Thanks Wayne – Master Oil Racing Team.
The Rasini brothers drove a Molinari boat to the overall win i Paris Six Hours 1967
A Molinari/Mercury powered boat won again in Paris Six Hours 1968. The drivers was Renato and Leonardi.
American drivers came in second and third..I think we know the one of them pretty good..!!
I guess some of the Swedes did not turn very good..
This is from the Havasu race 1969. Renato drove a two engine boat but crashed..#68
I got the pictures from Gene Lanham (Thank you) but have no more info.
Lucky Molinari..won Paris Six Hours 1969
Molinari history: Bristol 1977
Yes, I remember Bristol 1977 very well..My first race with the Molinari/Volvo Penta/Konig F3/OE and Renato was extremely upset with me..He asked me to give the Molinari boat back to him.. the one I paid big bucks for..!!
I was also slowly understanding that the engine build in West Berlin was pretty
Well..Renato wins the 1980 Rouen 24 Hours in is Molinari/Evinrude CC this time.
Molinari F1-V8 two seater race boat.
More mixed F1-V8 pictures here:..http://svera.se/blogg/f1-v8/f1-v8-pictures-mixed/
Bristol 1977…Renato and his brother on the back of the boat.
#15 Mark Rotharmel from Toronto, Canada in his Molinari/Evinrude V8. Milan, 1984.
Renato took me for a spin in his white Porsche 911 Turbo up in the Como mountains.
Here is a picture of one of Renatos boats 1984. The -84 engine cowling was rounded in the rear. Molinari made his own and OMC made one to, but Renatos was nicer.
The second picture is from 1983..You can see the square rear of the Evinrude cowling.
Spalding/Percival won Amsterdam 3 hours 1974 in a Molinari..
Well..Velden/Seebold came second in a Molinari and Percival/Spalding third in a Molinari.
Bob Holloway´s Molinari/Mercury Twister 2X ..1975
Jimbo McConnell in his Mod 50 Molinari/Evinrude CC.
Did see Jimbo race this boat at Miami Marine Stadium in the late seventies.
I also know Jimbo was a big friend of Mod 50 racing.
Keith Scotton – #484 Molinari /Johnson V6-RS
1985 -Werter Morelli – Scafo Molinari #56
A smaller Molinari boat..looks like a stock Evinrude 75..(SE Class)
998 Bill Sirous, 21′ Molinari, dual 1350 BP DC Stackers!
Winner of 1970 World Championship
Renato (first left) after he crashed out in Rotterdam Grand-Prix 1975
Pinuccio Todeschini in his # 197 Molinari/Mercruiser racing 1982
I guess you could buy a Molinari boat and race the Merc 2 liter class when Renato was under contract with OMC..
Renato was really upset with me when I installed a Volvo Penta/Konig on the F3/OE boat I purchased from him 1977..
This is from Munich, Germany 1984..Renato won the F1 title there.
..but it is an older picture..I believe it is the aluminum boat from 1982 with race # 165..
Buck Thornton is driving his #95 Molinari/Evinrude..Looks like a Martini paint job with a new sponsor..not sure what year but my guess is 1984 maybe -85. I know Buck raced a Johnson V8 in Pittsburgh 1983..but did not drive a Molinari boat there. (I think it was a Lee Craft)
This is going to be a good one..one of my favorite racing friends..
Jimbo McConnell drove the Spirit of Sacramento…his #3 Molinari/Evinrude V8 to victory 1983
I got this from my Italian friend Marcello
Renato Molinari is not only a beautiful boat manufacture but he is a superb cook!
Here is preparing a fabolous BBQ.
One more picture from Marcello.
(Renato to the left)
Lars, another picture date 1986 of Renato Molinari, with Cesare Fiorio and Carlo Bodega, after winning the Monaco GP.
Renato Molinari F1-V8 OZ World Champ 1981
I am not sure what power Molinari boat with race # 397 uses..Renato to the left second picture.
Jackie Wilson: The winner of “Chasewater 500” 1970 in his #4 Molinari/Merc.
“Chasewater 500” 1970 was very interesting reading for me.
Back then I was working at Heidi Blomberg Marine outside Stockholm.
As a 16 year old boy I was watching my boss Bengt Blomberg and his wife Heidi racing those nice Schulze cats with Merc engines.
Heidi was born in Austria next to Dieter Schulze and I remember Dieter visiting the marina in Sweden where I was working.
Reading that my boss Bengt Blomberg crashed out Renato in Chasewater 500 1970 was a surprise. Bengt never told me that.!! Well..maybe he was a better racer than a boss.!!..
I remember quitting the job.. before he went out of business later 1970.
After some digging I found the letter “working ratings” (Resumé) from Bengt Blomberg.
My new job was for another boat racing Swede..in the outboard business..
Kenty Sjöholm was his name…that is another long story.
Here is a few pictures of Bengt Blombergs Schulze cats and the letter from him to me..
You can see Heidi, (Bengts wife) driving the yellow OI 19 cat..
Bert Huffener of Holland was not only organizing the famous 3 hour race of Amsterdam..
..he also raced a Molinari boat with a Merc T2X..sold and prepered by Cees Van Der Velden of Boxtel
I raced a few times myself in Amsterdam 3 hours with good result.
Bo and I teamed up for our first trip to England & Amsterdam 1975
Renato Molinari and Bob Hering win Bristol 1973 in a brand new Molinari “picklefork” design with a Merc 6C
Please read this long race story below:
Rudi Hersel of Germany died crashing his Schulze/Evinrude 24 minutes into the race.
Not really sure what this is..
Here is a picture from the F1-V8 race in Drammen, Norway 1982..You can see Renato in his Martini boat..but more interesting is the black Molinari with #191..I think that is Jimbo McConnell.
Photo by Per Simonsen..Thank you.
Rouen 24 hour race 1984
Renato Molinari was leading (boat #95) the 1984 Rouen 24 hours with many laps when Jean-luc Izard crashed him out of the race. The power of Renato’s boat was a Mercedes-Benz diesel.. This was Renatos last Rouen 24 hour race.
Picture: French Phil..Thank you.
More Renato Molinari history..
Renato on top.. the F1-V8 race in Como 1982.
Roger Jenkins left and Cees Van Der Velden right.
Photo: Marcello Curioni
I don’t know if Molinari ever made a small hydro..but here is Renato looking at a König..Not sure where and when..
A Molinari/Martini/Evinrude racing sticker from 1983.
The masters of Formula 1 Powerboat racing..Cees van der Velden, Bill Seebold and Renato Molinari to the right.
Drammen, Norway 1981
Renato standing in his #65 Tecnocar/Molinari/Evinrude V8.
Photo: Per Simonsen
Molinari/Martini/Evinrude World Champ 1983
Renato Molinari drove to victory in the Dutch 3 Hour GP 1977
Here is the Powerboat & Waterskiing story from the race and I need Steve Pinson to help out with more info.
Steve was driving a Barracuda but I think he got hit with bad luck. I think Hans Pelster is driving the Burgess/Johnson V-6 with race # 4 in the OZ class??..small picture or is it Steve Pinson. Look more like a Burgess the Barracuda??
Steve Pinson drove a Molinari/Johnson V-6 in Bristol 1979..#17
This boat look exactly like the OZ Saffa/Molinari/Evinrude V-6 I drove with Angelo Vassena in Paris 6 Hours 1978.
Well different paint job
1:43 scale model from Motomaso/Evinrude, Spain
Renato driving his #3 Molinari/Saffa/Johnson V6 RS in Bristol 1977. I think this boat was also raced by Bob Hering, USA.
More Renato Molinari-Bob Hering..
Ron Ackerman in his #28 Molinari/TEXACO/Evinrude V6 CCC
Renato Molinari Milano 1982
Photo: Nino Molla
Angelo Molinari Renato´s father. Not sure what year.
First Molinari boat to race in the USA – pilot Roy Ridgell. This is supposedly the first Molinari hull to be imported to and raced in the USA.
Boat# 888 was driven by Mercury factory driver Roy Ridgell from Lake X, at the Gold Coast race from Miami beach to West Palm Beach, and back to Miami, Florida.
This is early to mid 60’s photo race.
Lake X Kid dreaming about tunnel boat speed while operating the Molinari boat lift. This is where the boats were lowered and lifted out of the water inside the Molinari plant on Lago Di Como. The boat lift was on the south side of the building and the open lake to the left of the photo.
This is an early 1970’s photo with the Lake X Kid operating the lift. The roll-away wooden floor (rolling towards the camerman in this photo) reveals the lake’s water edge, where the boats are lowered and raised in the Molinari boat shop.
Renato take’s win and beats cousin Cesare Scotti who takes second place overall.
Here are two Molinari hulls sandwiching a Scotti craft at Lago Di Bolsena in central Italy. That is Renato in the yellow racing suit. In the foreground is racer Carlo Rassini with young Timothy Ridgell sitting between the banker and his chauffeur Gigi.
Notice the Merc straight 6 motor next to the OMC v4 engine, and I believe the boats’s bows pitch higher-up when just sitting in the water than today’s F1 race boats.
Picture by Bert Huffener
PS. Ital-marine was the Evinrude distributor in Italy back then.